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Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2015 - 05:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, internet explorer, spartan, IE11, ie12
Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet reports that Microsoft is planning to release a new web browser with Windows 10. We have talked about it in the past, and its rumored extension architecture in particular, but it was expected to become Internet Explorer 12. Even then, snippets have shown that the team was considering a name change away from IE, to some degree of seriousness. Now we are hearing that it might actually be a wholly new, standalone browser that is installed alongside IE11.
Yikes. Okay, so...
Stick a fork in... ... Trident...?
(Image Credit: Wikipedia)
Browser rendering engines have been in flux over the last couple of years. First, Opera decided to deprecate their Presto engine and move to Webkit, along with KDE, Apple, Google, Valve, and so forth. Later, Google decided to fork Webkit into Blink, with Opera following them, to push updates with less inter-company politics. Meanwhile, Mozilla (and Samsung) started a research project, called Servo, which was developed from scratch to be a multi-threaded, efficient rendering engine. This is difficult, because Web standards were designed to be single-threaded; it may be a successful replacement, or it may just teach them a few new tricks for Gecko.
Developing a new engine from scratch is daunting but Microsoft could obviously afford it, if it is deemed a worthy project. With Trident being forked, it seems unlikely for a while though. After all, why would they fork an engine if they had something in skunkworks for years (because a standards-compliant rendering engine takes a long time to make)? Chances are that they have no plans to even start, but don't let that belittle Microsoft's possibilities with a Trident fork that is free of legacy Internet Explorer concerns.
A preview of the new browser might not make the January technical preview of Windows 10, but it is expected to be done in time for Windows 10. We will probably have access to a pre-release version before then and they might even show it off during their Windows 10 Consumer event on January 21st.
Subject: Storage | January 2, 2015 - 03:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Startech, thunderbolt, S252SMTB3, ssd
The StarTech Thunderbolt Dual SSD Enclosure S252SMTB3 is fairly expensive at just over $200 empty but thankfully they included a Thunderbolt cable; you will need to provide the second cable if you intend to daisy chain devices. This model uses the first generation 10Gbps interface and allows you to install two SSDs in either RAID 0 or RAID 1. In RAID 1 the drives performed as you would expect with the reads hitting close to theoretical maximum and write sitting just below half of that speed. In RAID 0 the reads and writes on the 128 GB Corsair Force GS SSDs used by Bjorn3D for testing hit their maximum theoretical speeds; it will be very interesting to see the results of faster SSDs on a new 20Gbps model of enclosure. If you want external storage that is as fast as your internal drives then this is worth looking at.
"Even though it is popular to use a network attached storage sometimes it is nice to have storage closer to the computer, for example for Timemachine backup on a Mac or just as a way to add more storage space on a laptop with a small SSD. The Startech enclosure we are reviewing today, the StarTech Thunderbolt Dual SSD Enclosure S252SMTB3, comes with a Thunderbolt interface that not only lets you daisy-chain it with several other peripherals but also offers a lot of bandwidth making it a perfect option for increasing the storage space on a Mac Book Air or other computer with little initial storage. After testing it turns out that it performs just as well as expected with just a few minor complaints."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Synology DiskStation DS415+ @ techPowerUp
- ASUSTOR AS7004T NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Asustor AS7004T @ Legion Hardware
- Seagate NAS Pro DP-6 Network Attached Storage @ Modders-Inc
- WD Red 6TB NAS Hard Drive Review @ Techgage
- Western Digital Red Pro (WD4001FFSX) 4 TB Hard Disk Drive @ TechARP
- Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 V4 6TB SAS 12Gb/s HDD Review @ NikKTech
- Lexar Workflow DD512 USB 3.0 Solid State Drive @ eTeknix
- Samsung brings out new longer-lived 1TB Flash podule for PCs, notebooks @ The Register
- The OCZ challenge: kill 5 ARC 100 SSD's @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2015 - 02:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, wireless keyboard, logitech, K480
For around $50 you can purchase the Bluetooth enabled Logitech K480 Wireless Keyboard, compatible with Mac OS X, Windows, Chrome OS, iOS, Android and perhaps even QNIX. The slot at the top of the keyboard will fit your phone or tablet and the unit is less expensive than the docks available for Surface, ASUS and other hybrid tablets but does not add the additional features and battery life that those docks provide. Techgage tested it out successfully and enjoyed its usability although additional dedicated keys such as Send would improve this keyboard significantly.
"A mobile keyboard that does it all, on all of your devices – that’s quite the Holy Grail nowadays. Well, what we’re looking at here is an offering from Logitech that may just suit the needs of your mobile lifestyle. Whether you’re needing to type on your iPad, smartphone, or even your desktop, this keyboard won’t hold you back."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Cougar 700K Mechanical Keyboard @ eTeknix
- CM Storm Quickfire Rapid-i Mechanical Keyboard @ eTeknix
- Razer Chroma Set Review @ Madshrimps
- Logitech G302 ‘Daedalus Prime’ MOBA Gaming Mouse @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte Aire M93 Ice Wireless Mouse @ eTeknix
- Func MS-2 Optical Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
- FUNC MS-2 Gaming Mouse @ Modders-Inc
- Corsair Gaming M65 RGB Laser Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
- Razer Deathstalker Expert Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- Cougar 600M Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
- Roccat Tyon Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2015 - 02:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 2015, predictions, iot
Over at The Inquirer the news staff have put up brief predictions and warnings they see as important as a new year dawns. As one would expect, the Internet of Things is mentioned twice as this market will be expanding quickly as more companies start to sell TCP/IP enabled devices. Madeline Bennett is concerned about how existing standards such as HyperCat and Open Interconnect Consortium will be treated by companies such as Intel and Cisco, the latter of which is famous for only using technology designed in house. Chris Merriman illustrates the detrimental effects closed sourced and incompatible platforms can have in this market as he has a dozen speakers in his house which can not be connected to create a multi-room sound system. Also mentioned is the nascent science of quantum cryptography and how it could lead to fraud proof credit cards, the effects of social media on interpersonal relationships and even a warning to the two largest North American smartphone vendors.
"A NEW YEAR has dawned, and we've been reading the tea leaves and consulting the omens to predict the most important technology events and trends during 2015."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- TSMC advises clients to order in advance @ DigiTimes
- Experiencing The Samsung Gear S Smart Watch At The Samsung Gear S Spy Camp @ TechARP
- 2014 Was the Year of Android Everywhere @ Linux.com
- How to Sync Android with the Linux Desktop @ Linux.com
Subject: Systems | January 2, 2015 - 11:50 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: zotac, zbox pico, zbox nano, zbox, SFF, mini-pc, EN860, E-Series, CI321, ces 2015, CES
As processors continue to shrink and power consumption dwindles to tablet-like numbers with the newest notebook computers, the mini-PC segment just gets more interesting. While the tiniest of these (ZBOX pico, ECS LIVA) might not be suitable for any heavy desktop use, ZOTAC is trying to cater to all needs with their new lineup for CES this year.
The ZBOX CI321 nano
First up is a new addition to the C-series mini-PC family, the ZBOX CI321 nano. This is powered by a dual-core Intel processor with dual Gigabit LAN, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and supports dual-channel memory. The CI321 nano is passively cooled for completely silent operation.
Next we have the next-generation ZBOX E-series gaming mini-PC:
The ZBOX EN860
The EN860 system adds G-SYNC support, multi display support (via DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI), and support for 4K @ 60 Hz (though at what kind of framerates we will have to wait and see).
A look at the back of the EN860
Finally we have the second edition of the tiny ZBOX pico, a mini-PC that resembles a small external hard drive:
The current-gen ZBOX pico
The new version of the pico is set to offer both AMD and Intel versions with dual-display support, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0.
No specifics on hardware components for these new ZBOX units just yet, but we'll keep you updated once the show begins and more details emerge.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Mobile | January 2, 2015 - 09:18 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: CES, wqxga, ultrabook, Samsung, notebook, laptop, intel core m, ces 2015, 5Y10c
Samsung has announced their latest ATIV ultrabook ahead of CES, and it looks impressive. Boasting a sleek all-aluminum design and packing 2560x1600 on its 12.2" screen, the latest ATIV Book 9 is powered by the newest Intel Core M technology with a fanless design for silent computing.
Beyond the Core M 5Y10c processor and Intel HD 5300 graphics, the Book 9 features a selectable 4GB or 8GB of memory, and either 128GB or 256GB of SSD storage. The notebook weighs in at just over 2 lbs (2.09, actually) and measures only 0.46 inches thick. The battery can provide up to 10.5 hours on a single charge according to Samsung, which would put it near the current-gen MacBook Air in that department (which honestly appears to be the direct inspiration for this notebook's design). Samsung hasn't skimped in the sound department, with a high-end Wolfson DAC for lossless audio playback.
You may have read Ryan's review of Broadwell-Y performance back in November, and the results for these new chips are impressive when considering the ultra-low power design. The processor in this Book 9 (the Core M 5Y10c) is targeting just 3.5W SDP (4.5W TDP) while providing up to 2.0 GHz with a 4MB cache. The extremely low power requirements from these 14nm parts will allow more fanless designs like this notebook going forward, though it will be interesting to see how performance scales under extended use without a fan.
Display: 12.2” WQXGA (2560x1600), 350nit (max 700nit) LED
Processor: Intel® Core™ M 5Y10c
Graphics: Intel® HD Graphics 5300
Memory: 8GB (4GB also available)
Hard Disk: 256GB SSD (128GB also available)
Audio: PC-Fi (Wolfson WM5102 integrated)
Camera: 720p HD
Battery Life: Up to 10.5 hours
Dimensions: 11.19" x 8.37" x 0.46"
Weight: 2.09 pounds
Color: Imperial Black
I/O Ports: 2x USB 3.0, micro HDMI and SD, RJ45 (dongle), headphone/mic combo
Pricing: $1199.99 4GB RAM/128GB SSD, $1399.99 8GB RAM/256GB SSD.
Availability: Q1 2015 (listing already active on Amazon).
Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2014 - 05:35 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, Lian Li, LG, Intel, gigabyte, g-sync, freesync, drobo, bitfenix, asus, amd, acer, 850 EVO
PC Perspective Podcast #331 - 12/31/2014
Join us this week as we discuss our Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:54:53
Podcast topics of discussion:
Week in Review:
Ken is an idiot, don't try to use the Hyper 212 Evo in the Air 240.
News items of interest:
PC Perspective Hardware Picks of the Year
Graphics Card of 2014
Winner: GTX 970
GTX TITAN Z (lulz)
R9 295 X2
Runner-up: GTX 750 Ti
CPU of 2014
Winner: Core i7-4790K
Core M 5Y70 (Broadwell-Y)
AMD AM1 Athlon 5350
AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU
Runner-up: Athlon X4 860K
Storage of 2014
Samsung 850 Pro
Winner: Samsung 850 EVO
Runner-up: Intel P3700
Intel SSD 730 Series
Silicon Motion SM2246EN (Force LX, Angelbird ssd wrk, Adata 610)
Case of 2014
Winner: NCASE M1
Runner-up: Corsair Carbide Air 240
Fractal Design Define R5
SilverStone Raven RVZ01
PHT Ultra Low-Profile HTPC Case
Motherboard of 2014
Runner-up: ASUS Crossblade Ranger FM2+
ASUS Z97 Deluxe
Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 Black Edition
Winner: Z97 Maximus VII Formula
Price Drop of 2014
Winner: AMD R9 290X/290
R9 295 X2
GTX Titan Z (lulz)
Runner-up: SSDs (again)
Best Trend of 2014
Variable Refresh Rate Monitors / Tear-free Gaming
Runner-up: PCIe/NVMe storage
Winner: 21:9 Monitors
Worst Trend of 2014
Locked GPU Voltages
Winner: 840 Evo Performance Issues
Runner-up: G-SYNC Monitor prices
GPU Mining BitCoins
Subject: Displays | December 31, 2014 - 10:29 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: LG, 34um67, ultrawide, 21:9, CES, ces 2015, freesync, adaptive sync
Let the variable refresh rate monitor battle begin! This week LG has announced a gaming-specific 21:9 aspect ratio monitor that features support for AMD's FreeSync variable refresh rate technology. LG joins Samsung as monitor vendors that have officially thrown in hats with the AMD-backed and VESA standard Adaptive Sync technology rather than NVIDIA's G-Sync (or maybe in addition to).
The new 34UM67 is a flat, 34-in 21:9 aspect ratio display; a style that is becoming increasing popular among enthusiast and gamers as they offer expanding views in some games without the need to use multiple monitors in a Eyefinity or Surround configuration. LG has not announced the resolution yet but I assume that since they aren't bragging about it openly, that we are looking at a 2560x1080 screen rather than 3440x1440. Still, coupling that resolution with support for a variable refresh technology should provide an impressive gaming experience.
Here is what the official press release has to say about the new LG 34UM67 being shown next week at CES:
LG's UltraWide Gaming Monitor (34UM67) is the company's first 21:9 monitor specifically developed for graphics-intensive gaming. AMD's FreeSync technology eliminates the screen tearing that occurs when the monitor and graphics card are out of sync. Furthermore FreeSync technology guarantees the smoothest and most seamless gaming experience, generating fluid motion without any loss of frame rate.
"AMD FreeSync technology is an innovative monitor technology, based on free and open industry standards, to eliminate the tearing and stuttering that has plagued PC gaming for 30 years," said Roy Taylor, corporate vice president of ISV/IHV Partner Group, AMD. "We are pleased that LG Electronics stands with us with truly exciting AMD FreeSync-ready displays like the LG UltraWide Gaming Monitor."
The 34UM67 also has an exceptional UltraWide field of view (FOV), allowing gamers to gain the upper hand by revealing hidden spaces that were invisible on regular 16:9 monitors. The monitor's Black Stabilizer illuminates dark scenes and helps to clearly define the deep black areas where objects and enemies could be hidden. The Dynamic Action Sync mode minimizes input lag, enhancing users' real time gaming experience. Many popular games such as Battlefield 4, World of Warcraft and ArcheAge currently support 21:9 resolution with more games expected to support this resolution in the future.
Support for 21:9 resolutions is still spotty in most PC titles and can result in the same kind of FOV scaling issues we see with Eyefinity. More games are including direct support for these monitors and hopefully 2015 will see a focus on that with each game release.
I still have a lot of questions about AMD's FreeSync technology and how it will stand up to the effectiveness of NVIDIA G-Sync, but I am eager to see it first hand. CES will provide the first opportunity for us but we will obviously need extended time with panels in our offices to make a final decision.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | December 29, 2014 - 01:42 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: laptop, google, dell, ChromeOS, Chromebook, chrome, acer
According to DigiTimes via The Tech Report, because of course DigiTimes, we should receive 15.4-inch Chromebooks in the near future. Their sources claim that both Acer and Dell have products planned with that operating system, in that size, and will cost less then $300. The Acer system is expected in March 2015 with Dell scheduled for some time in the first half of 2015.
One part that stands out for me is the maximum price of $300. The claim is that this is a Google mandated ceiling for Chromebooks with up-to Core i3 performance. This is troubling for two reasons. First, depending on the details, it might dance around inside the minefield of price-fixing laws, although I am sure that Google is doing this in a legally. I mean, Apple has been getting away with enforcing maximum retail prices of iPods and iOS devices for around a decade and I believe console manufacturers do about the same.
Second, and more importantly, it limits the ability for manufacturers to be creative and innovative, which is the major advantage of an open ecosystem. Being a web browser-based platform, there is already constraints on what manufacturers can implement. Sure, Google is probably open to communication with their partnered hardware vendors, but it is uncomfortable none-the-less. I could use the Nexus Q as an example of an experiment but unfortunately it was neither a hit nor did it cost over $300. Sure, they could add a more powerful processor to escape that clause but it is still
These Chromebooks are expected to launch in the early half of 2015.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | December 29, 2014 - 10:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sony, Samsung, playstation now, Playstation
I know that I have said it in the past, but I am not big on cloud streaming services. For art, the ability to genuinely own your content keeps it safe from censorship and licensing disagreements. You only need to look back a year to see Disney pulling access to legally purchased content on Amazon because they wanted their TV channel to have exclusive rights to the Christmas movies in the holiday season. This does not apply to people who actually owned the content (semi-)DRM-free. Streaming services, especially for video games, are examples of perfection for anyone willing to abuse the system.
Remember: If you build it, the abuse will come.
With that commentary out of the way, what streaming services are good at is pure entertainment. They are just about peak convenience to deliver... some form of entertaining content... unless you have spotty internet (or some other exception). These services have definite merit, so long as they augment platforms for actual art and not attempt to replace them.
So why am I rambling? Recently, Sony has announced that PlayStation Now will arrive for Samsung Smart TVs alongside Sony devices. At first, this might sound surprising. Sony, a console manufacturer, is providing access to the PlayStation ecosystem on other platforms – and yes, that is noteworthy. It is also not without precedent. While the initiative is mostly abandoned, Sony tried opening up to third-party mobile manufacturers (HTC, Sharp, Fujitsu, Wikipad, and Alcatel) with “PlayStation Certified”.
There is also a second reason why this is not too surprising: Samsung and Sony are fairly close partners in TV technology. Until just a few years ago, Sony LCD TV panels were manufactured by S-LCD, until Samsung eventually bought out Sony's interest in the company. The two companies are not really hostile in the TV market. If we see Sony open up PlayStation Now to LG Electronics, then I will scratch my head.
While announced ahead of CES, PlayStation Now is expected to be present at the show on Samsung TVs.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 28, 2014 - 11:15 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: silent case, silencio, mid-tower, matx case, enclosure, cooler master, case, atx case
Sometimes you don't want your system to sound like a clogged vacuum cleaner, and that's where a silent case can help. To be fair, all cases are silent until there are running components inside (it's been scientifically proven), but with enough insulation and some quiet fans a case can provide virtual silence with a system installed and running.
The Silencio cases from Cooler Master have been around for a while, and the current iteration comes in both mid and mini tower versions. The mid-tower Silencio 652S was just reviewed over at The Tech Report, and it looks like a solid option for a quiet case without being too expensive at around $119.
The features and price tag of this case compare favorably with Fractal Design's Define R5 enclosure - recently reviewed here at PC Perspective. The 652S boasts massive storage capacity for up to 9 hard drives or 10 SSDs, along with support for long GPUs and liquid cooling, making it a nice option for quiet cooling depending on performance.
Pretty clean looking build you have there, Cooler Master
The case looks good if you like a minimalist design, though the review did find the included fans to be a bit loud. Check out the full review over at The Tech Report for a detailed look at the Silencio 652S.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 28, 2014 - 09:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon, nvidia, gtx, geforce, amd
According to an anonymous source of WCCFTech, AMD is preparing a 20nm-based graphics architecture that is expected to release in April or May. Originally, they predicted that the graphics devices, which they call R9 300 series, would be available in February or March. The reason for this “delay” is a massive demand for 20nm production.
The source also claims that NVIDIA will skip 20nm entirely and instead opt for 16nm when that becomes available (which is said to be mid or late 2016). The expectation is that NVIDIA will answer AMD's new graphics devices with a higher-end Maxwell device that is still at 28nm. Earlier rumors, based on a leaked SiSoftware entry, claim 3072 CUDA cores that are clocked between 1.1 GHz and 1.39 GHz. If true, this would give it between 6.75 and 8.54 TeraFLOPs of performance, the higher of which is right around the advertised performance of a GeForce Titan Z (only in a single compute device that does not require distribution of work like what SLI was created to automate).
Will this strategy work in NVIDIA's favor? I don't know. 28nm is a fairly stable process at this point, which will probably allow them to get chips that can be bigger and more aggressively clocked. On the other hand, they pretty much need to rely upon chips that are bigger and more aggressively clocked to be competitive with AMD's slightly more design architecture. Previous rumors also hint that AMD is looking at water-cooling for their reference card, which might place yet another handicap against NVIDIA, although cooling is not an area that NVIDIA struggles in.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 28, 2014 - 08:18 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, Android
NVIDIA has upgraded their SHIELD Tablet software to version 2.1. This release increments Android Lollipop to 5.0.1, updates a bit of bundled software, improves localization support, and adds OpenGL 4.5. The updated landed on December 23rd, alongside their Grid Tuesday release.
The new graphics API is interesting, but its usefulness is a bit questionable. Google does not really support OpenGL on the platform, although they do not prevent companies (like NVIDIA) from providing their own SDKs. This could be a bit increase in performance for apps that are optimized for the SHIELD Tablet and possibly the Nexus 9, especially since its main features increase performance and security. On the other hand, this should increase the potential for NVIDIA's first-party releases and ports.
If you have the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, then this is might be week-old news. If not, the update was released on December 23rd.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 28, 2014 - 01:18 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, ssd, ncix, directcanada, deals
A couple of Canadian stores, NCIX and DirectCanada, have marked down the Intel 730 SSD in both 240GB and 480GB models. While sites like Amazon and Newegg are selling it for $530 and $547, respectively, NCIX has the 480GB version on for $259.99 and the 240GB version for $169.99. DirectCanada is close, their price is about $10 more expensive for the 480GB and a few cents cheaper for the 240GB (480GB - $269.89 and 240GB - $169.95). This is even cheaper than the American Amazon price, which is going for $456.99 USD.
You can see in Allyn's review from February, he really liked the drive. He notes that it is a bit hot and power hungry, but he also notes that the controller is overclocked and that is probably why you want to buy it. If you are Canadian, or are somehow able to make a purchase in Canada, this is a ridiculous price. For everyone else, who knows? It might be a sign that its price could drop altogether. Either that, or NCIX and DirectCanada just feel like throwing money around today.
Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2014 - 04:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, grid, geforce grid, f1 2010, dirt showdown
Okay, so I forgot about #GRIDTuesday for a little while. NVIDIA didn't. They have been releasing two games for the GRID service each and every week. You will need a SHIELD device to access it, which I don't have, and you will also need to be in a supported region. If you qualify in both criteria, then you can have access to NVIDIA's cloud-streamed game service for free (until June 30th). Since our post last month, which aligned with the release of Psychonauts and Red Faction: Armageddon, eight new games have been added.
The most recent inclusions, occurring two days before Christmas, were F1 2010 and Dirt Showdown. The previous Tuesday was Lego-themed, with LEGO The Hobbit and LEGO The Lord of the Rings joining the service. This followed the indie titles, Stacking and PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate on December 9th. Finally, December 2nd was Batman: Arkham Origins and LEGO Batman: The Video Game.
Now you're all caught up.
These are quite good games. Batman: Arkham Origins was released just about a year ago and enjoyed by most, especially fans of the franchise. Some have complained about bugs and glitches, but it is free in this promotional period, so why not?
This week brought the number of available games up to an even 30, and they are quite diverse. If you have a SHIELD device, and are in the United States, Canada, or Western Europe, then be sure to check it out.
Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2014 - 11:23 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Xbox live, retro, PlayStation network, pc gaming, GOG, gaming, DRM, console
With the outage over Christmas of both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network (both pretty much restored, though it took Sony much longer to recover) many console gamers were unable to play.
Screen captures of the official status from both networks this morning
Beyond online gaming even those attempting to play their own local games were often hampered by the inability of the DRM system to work, preventing the game from loading. Oh, DRM...who needs it? Not the person playing old games that don't use it!
While the term "retro gaming" will likely evoke images of an Atari 2600 or NES, it is retro gaming of the PC persuasion to which we direct our attention now. The website known as Good Old Games (GOG.com) sells many classic titles from distant and not so distant past, and everything sold is DRM free. Install, run; no internet connection required (after you use the internet to actually download the game, that is).
The games are inexpensive as well, but get so much more so during the frequent sales the site promotes. One such sale is going on now, where various Square Enix-owned titles are 75% off, which puts them at $1.49 to $2.49 each. Take that, modern console gaming!
Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2014 - 05:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tf2, valve
So Valve is working on a new game mode for Team Fortress 2, called “Mannpower Mode”. It is a variation of Capture the Flag and it is currently available in the beta map pool, accessible from the Play Beta Maps checkbox in Play Multiplayer. While it will change significantly over its development period, this beta launch corresponds with their Christmas promotion.
Even though it's like Capture the Flag, there are some significant differences. First, similar to many other franchises, the objective is touch-return. Fans of Unreal Tournament, Halo, and many other franchises will know that this is different in two main ways: a dropped objective will return to base instant when it is touched by a defender, and the attacker's flag must be returned in to capture the opponent's one. Second, random critical hits are disabled.
Third, grappling hooks and power-ups? I am guessing the Valve wants TF2 to be more competitive in with the fast-paced shooter crowd, so they are finding ways to increase mobility and map control within the Team Fortress 2 ruleset. Of course, that is not a criticism about TF2's game design – quite the opposite; it is different, not worse. It is interesting to think about the relatively slow characters of TF2 being used in more of a higher-reward, lower-forgiveness game mode. The updates add mobility and incentives to use it, both rewarding flag returns as well as acquiring power-ups.
Team Fortress 2 is still free-to-play, but rarely free-toupee.
Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2014 - 12:01 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: router, nighthawk x6, netgear, DSLR, Canon, 10 days of christmas
Are you still hunting for that perfect gift for the hardware and technology fan in your life? Or maybe you are looking for recommendations to give to your friends and family about what to buy for YOU? Or maybe you just want something new and cool to play with over the break? Welcome to PC Perspective's 10 Days of Christmas where we will suggest a new item each day for you to consider. Enjoy!
The staff here at PC Perspective couldn't decide on a final item for our 10 days series. We decided to do a post with two items to end with a bang (and extreme indecisiveness). Then, just before the post went live, one of the items was no longer available in the bundle that we considered a good deal. Thanks, universe, for stepping in and making us declare a single best deal... of the day. Our final recommendation is: a high-performance router!
Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Router
This tri-band, 6-antenna monster that is the Netgear Nighthawk X6 looks the part, and offers up to 3.2 Gbps performance from its three Wi-Fi data streams (one 600 Mb/s 2.4 GHz network and dual 1300 Mb/s 5 GHz networks). It's powered by a dual-core 1 GHz CPU with 256 MB of RAM, has the usual 4-port Gigabit switch, and offers both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports on the back. It's an impressive piece of hardware with a price to match, just under $300.
If you are having trouble picking out a gift for a loved one, consider buying an Amazon.com gift card! Amazon has basically every product on the planet for your gift recipient to order and purchasing gift cards through these links directly sponsors and supports PC Perspective! And hey, if you were to buy gift cards for yourself to do your own Amazon-based Christmas shopping...that wouldn't exactly be a bad thing for us either! ;)
Did you miss any of our other PCPer 10 Days of Christmas posts?
Day 1: Google Nexus 7 Tablet
Day 3: Intel Core i7-4790K
Day 4: Google Chromecast
Day 7: Amazon Kindle
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems | December 23, 2014 - 04:07 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: x86, Nintendo, arm, amd
The tea leaves that WCCFTech have been reading are quite scattered, but they could be right. The weaker half is pulled from an interview between Shigeru Miyamoto and the Associated Press. At the very end, the creator of many Nintendo franchises states, “While we're busy working on software for the Wii U, we have production lines that are working on ideas for what the next system might be.”
Of course they do. That is not confirmation of a new console.
Original Mario Bros. Screenshot Credit: Giant Bomb (Modified)
A bit earlier, he also states, “I think that maybe when we release the next hardware system, you can look forward to seeing Mario take on a new role or in a new game.”
This, on the other hand, sounds a little bit like they are iterating on game design ideas that will shape the next console. From what I understand, this is how Nintendo tends to work – they apparently engineer hardware around concept use cases. It could also be a mistake.
The rumor's stronger half is a statement from Devinder Kumar, the CFO of AMD.
“I will say that one [design win] is x86 and [another] is ARM, and at least one will [be] beyond gaming, right,” said Devinder Kumar, chief financial officer of AMD, at the Raymond James Financial technology conference. “But that is about as much as you going to get out me today. From the standpoint [of being] fair to [customers], it is their product, and they launch it. They are going to announce it and then […] you will find out that it is AMD’s APU that is being used in those products.”
So AMD has secured design wins from two companies, one gaming and the other is something else. Also, one design will be x86 and the other will be ARM-based. This could be an awkward co-incidence but, at the same time, there are not too many gaming companies around.
Also, if it is Nintendo, which architecture would they choose? x86 is the common instruction set amongst the PC and other two consoles, and it is easy to squeeze performance out of. On the other hand, Nintendo has been vocal about Apple and the mobile market, which could have them looking at ARM, especially if the system design is particularly abnormal. Beyond that, AMD could have offered Nintendo an absolute steal of a deal in an effort to get a high-profile customer associated with their ARM initiative.
Or, again, this could all be coincidence.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 22, 2014 - 08:16 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: wall mount, Steam Machine, PC-05S, mini-itx, Lian Li, enclosure, cases, aluminum case
Techspot posted a review of the unreleased Lian Li PC-05S case over the weekend, and as you can see it’s a lot more interesting than the generic name might suggest.
The case features aluminum construction (of course - it’s a Lian Li!) and a tempered glass side to showcase the build. And what better way to show off a build than hanging it on the wall like a picture? Well, the reviewer didn’t show this but the case is described as a “wall mountable open-air chassis” by Lian Li on their site. Overall, Techspot liked the PC-05S and called it “a beautiful case that is well-designed inside and out”.
Looks great on a desk!
At just over 14 lbs (without components) this will require some planning to mount on a wall. The dimensions (WHD) are 15.1” x 18.3” x 5.8”, and it has a similar layout to Steam Machine cases like the SilverStone RV01 which we reviewed back in January. Like the RV01, the PC-05S requires a mini-ITX motherboard and orients the GPU at a 90° angle (via an included ribbon adapter) to fit in such a slim enclosure. The PC-05S also requires an SFX power supply (such as the SilverStone SX600-G we reviewed recently) and supports 240mm radiators.
Many more photos and full specs are available on the main product page, and the Lian Li PC-05S is slated for a February 2015 release. The cost? $319.